In a piece at Military.com Geoff LaMear expresses a view that is contrary to the prevailing wisdom. According to him sending Patriot missiles to Ukraine is an “expensive blunder:”:
The truth is Patriot systems are as likely to stop the drone threat as a water balloon is to stop a forest fire. The mismatch is too great. And Washington’s persistence despite that reality is a blunder that will prove costly.
Air defenses rely on radars that scan for threats in a specific area. For Patriot systems, these areas are small and meant to be pinpoint locations like a military base or power plant. A single Patriot system would not alter the inherent vulnerability that Ukraine experiences in the air, given its vast front of fighting against Russian troops. It might protect a few nodes that Kyiv prizes, but Russian air attacks can counter these missile systems.
He has an additional criticism:
Ukraine is also not equipped to use Patriots. American personnel spend months studying what is a complex and highly technical system. That time is dedicated by military planners despite U.S. troops typically facing no language barrier in doctrinal or technical documents, having access to experts with years of experience, and support from the contractors who design the systems.
Ukraine will still need extensive support to operate and maintain the equipment even after training. To employ Patriots effectively would require embedding U.S. personnel with these missile batteries. Doing so risks U.S. casualties and a direct U.S.-Russia confrontation that could easily escalate.
and here’s his peroration:
The knee-jerk dosomethingism in Washington doesn’t help. It may produce warm and fuzzy feelings, but this doesn’t translate into a peace that will bring a return to normalcy for Ukraine’s people. What’s more important, the pretense of moral superiority or an end to the carnage?
Washington absolutists may say that principle trumps pragmatism. But how many thousands will have to die before the inevitable negotiations bring about the war’s end? Tactically questionable weapon shipments won’t change the outcome. They may delay it. And ordinary Ukrainians and Russians, oftentimes conscripted into a war not of their choosing, will continue to bleed until that reality is acknowledged.
Sadly, I think that ensuring that Russia loses the war resoundingly has overwhelmed any desire to “end the carnage”.
I don’t honestly know whether sending Patriots to Ukraine is right, wrong, or irrelevant. I have to take the word of those with more knowledge than I. While the expense is certainly a consideration, I’m actually more worried about the time and lives that will be used in learning that it’s the wrong use for that weapons system. And unlike many Americans, I’m a lot more interested in seeing that Russia doesn’t win outright than in ensuring that they lose.